Whoever you ask about the optimal diet that any cat should be eating on a day to day basis, you're almost always going to get an answer that goes somewhere along the lines of "high protein, moderate carbohydrate and fat content diet". While that's true for the most part and for the majority of cats out there, have you ever considered the fact that your cat may need to be eating a diet based around high fiber cat food instead?
Many cats do just fine eating the most popular regular cat food formulas, but sometimes the usual stuff just doesn't cut it and cats have specific conditions that need to be catered to, often by the introduction of high fiber amounts to a cat's diet.
In this article, we're going to be talking about all the benefits of high fiber cat foods as well as who exactly needs to be feeding such formulas to their cats, but before we get into all of these details and much more, let's have a quick look at our 5 top recommended and favorite high fiber cat food options of today.
Our List Of The Top 5 High Fiber Cat Food Brands
Top Pick: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Fiber Response Dry Cat Food
Pick #2: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Calorie Control High Fiber Canned Cat Food
Pick #3: Hill's Prescription Diet i/d Feline Gastrointestinal Health
Pick #4: Purina Pro Plan Dry Cat Food
Pick #5: Newman's Own Organics Grain-Free Canned Cat Food
*Note: The links in the table above, as well as several links in the remainder of the article below, will take you to over to Chewy.com where you can find out more information about the products, such as current prices and customer reviews.
The Different Types Of Fiber In Cat Food
Before we dive deeper into this article, let's first run a quick explanation about the different types of fiber in cat food that you should know about - fermentable fiber and non fermentable fiber.
First of all, you should know that any dietary fiber your cat is going to be getting from their food will come from the carbohydrates found in that formula, for the most part at least.
Fiber that your cat gets from protein sources and fat sources are negligible when compared to the fiber they get from some carbohydrate sources in their food.
However, not all carbohydrates found in your cat's food is going to supply them with the same amount of dietary fiber.
A cat food formula may have sources of simple carbohydrates and sources of complex carbohydrates, and it's the latter that you want to make sure a formula has if you're looking for real high fiber cat food.
Some examples of complex carbohydrates often found in cat food that supply your little one with adequate amounts of fiber are fruits (apples, pears, berries), vegetables (carrots, tomato) and whole grains (brown rice being one of the most popular).
Now, let's get to the different types of fiber your cat will be getting from high fiber cat food formulas.
The first type of fiber is called fermentable fiber, which a cat's digestive system has the necessary means to properly break down and digest.
The second type of fiber is called non fermentable fiber, which a cat's digestive system is able to break down and successfully digest only a portion of.
It should also be noted that for the portion of non fermentable fiber to be successfully broken down and absorbed by your cat's body, much more significant effort is required from the digestive system than that required to successfully break down and digest fermentable fiber.
Also know that after you begin feeding your cat high fiber cat food on a consistent basis and a few weeks pass, you'll begin noticing that their pooping has become more regular, more frequent and larger in mass.
This increase in poop mass is mostly due to the non fermentable fiber found in high fiber cat food and not the fermentable fiber part, unlike what many people tend to believe.
What Are The Benefits Of A High Fiber Diet For Cats?
Now, why exactly does your cat need to be eating cat food that's high in fiber? Don't cats usually need to be eating cat food that's based around high quality meats that are able to supply them with all the dietary protein their bodies require?
Yes, that's true, and your cat should be consuming a protein rich diet from protein rich cat food unless your veterinarian advises otherwise due to whatever health condition your cat may have.
However, high fiber cat food also plays a very important role many times, which is what we'll be covering in the following list.
Note: High fiber cat food doesn't have to mean that you'll be sacrificing the amount or quality of dietary protein your cat consumes on a daily basis as part of their diet.
While it is true that many manufacturers of cat food high in fiber tend to focus more on the amount and quality of carbohydrates, there are some very high quality formulas out there that maintain the same quality and quantity of protein while increasing fiber levels.
Constipation & Diarrhea: One of the most important reasons cat owners opt to feed their little ones high fiber cat food is when constipation or diarrhea decides to strike.
High fiber in your cat's food will greatly help solidify your cat's poop and ease their way back to a normal digestive system, and will also greatly help in more regular and easier pooping trips for cats experiencing constipation.
Speaking about constipation and diarrhea, and we will be covering this in a later section below in this article, it's preferred that you feed your cat a wet/canned high fiber cat food formula rather than a dry high fiber cat food formula.
This is especially true for cats experiencing constipation, as the moisture found in canned/wet high fiber cat food really helps.
A cat suffering from constipation and is giving you a hard time when it comes to drinking enough water throughout the day will get a great deal of water in its system from the wet cat food it's given to eat.
An important note should be made though that you should be careful not to overdo things when it comes to your cat's diet and fiber, as this may very well turn out to be counterproductive to what you're trying to accomplish.
Many cat owners that aim to regulate their cat's pooping schedule and help ease their constipation problem make the mistake of going overboard and giving their cats an excessively high amount of dietary fiber on a daily basis, which ends up worsening the constipation problem instead of helping ease it.
Excessive fiber consumed also leads to malnutrition in cats as the nutrient, mineral and vitamin absorption from food is greatly hindered.
So, even with dietary fiber, going overboard will turn something good into something harmful.
Slimming Down: Is your cat overweight/obese and you're looking to have them lose a few digits on that scale?
If so, high fiber cat food is one of the go-to solutions that should be on your list.
The philosophy behind this is quite simple and very similar to the philosophy behind you and I, or our dogs, eating a diet that consists of high fiber foods as well.
In short, high fiber foods result in less calories consumed throughout the day because of an increased feeling of satiation.
With that being said, we will reiterate that you should always have a talk with your veterinarian before switching to feeding your cat high fiber cat food for the purpose of weight loss, as only a competent veterinarian will be able to tell you if this is the best course to achieve desired weight loss or not, and if your cat even needs to be losing weight in the first place.
Also, and as similarly noted in the point about constipation above, the same applies to fiber in cat food and cat weight loss - feeding your cat an excessive amount of high fiber cat food will lead to weight gain because of the surplus in calories consumed, regardless of whether the food they're eating is high in fiber or not.
Blood Sugar Regulation: For cats that need some regulation in the levels of their blood sugar, be that due to conditions such as hypoglycemia, diabetes, etc .. high fiber cat food can play a strong role in the regulation of your cat's blood sugar levels and.
High fiber cat food means that the carbohydrate sources found in such a formula are complex carbohydrates that require a longer period of time to be broken down and absorbed by your cat's body, which in turn results in more stable blood sugar levels and successfully avoiding unwanted blood sugar spikes and crashes in your cat's system.
Hairballs: For cats that experience frequent hairball problems, you'll often notice that a high fiber diet is recommended by many veterinarians.
As all you cat owners are aware of by now, hairballs form in your feline's system due to your cat's ingestion of hair, whether by mistake or on purpose.
Your cat might like to eat its own hair for whatever reason, which is obviously a problem that needs to be addressed on its own, or your cat may just be accidentally ingesting some of its hair while it's being groomed and brushed, which ends up forming a hairball inside their digestive tract.
The fiber and adequate amount of water in high fiber cat food goes a long way in taking care of that problem by making it easier for these hairballs to pass through your cat's digestive system and speed up the process of elimination when defecating.
It's not a coincidence that many of the cat food formulas out there advertised as hairball-solving formulas concentrate a lot on high fiber count.
Of course, not all hairball formation problems in cats are due to lack of water consumption or lack of fiber consumption in a cat's diet, so a high fiber cat food formula may not always be the answer and a veterinary opinion may be required.
Note: Before making a shift from whatever cat food you're currently feeding your cat over to cat food that's high in fiber, it's always best to consult with your veterinarian and listen to what they have to say about it.
Many times, cat owners make the mistake of running a self diagnosis on their cats and concluding for themselves that such a dietary change is needed, but little do they know that an underlying health condition their cat is suffering from is what's causing whatever complication that drove them to consider changing their cat's diet in the first place.
So, it's always best for you to talk to your veterinarian first in order to ensure that your cat doesn't suffer from any underlying health conditions and that high levels of fiber in their diet is indeed what they need.
What Criteria Determines The Best High Fiber Cat Food Brands?
Because not all high fiber cat food is created equally, and because some formulas out there may indeed be high in fiber but are in reality extremely low in quality, let's go over some of the most important points you should make sure of before grabbing yourself a bag of any cat food high in fiber.
Probably the most important issue you have to be aware of is the source of dietary fiber found in your cat's food, as not all sources are alike.
Ideally, the dietary fiber that's found in your cat's food should come from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, which not only supply your cat with beneficial dietary fiber, but also with nutritious vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Some examples of fruits and vegetables that are usually found in high fiber cat food are prunes, apples, peas and sweet potatoes.
On the other hand, one trick that certain manufacturers that claim to be selling you top quality high fiber cat food tend to do is include low quality ingredients that make the bulk of the fiber count in their formula, for no reason but to lower the production costs on their end and be able to make a higher profit margin.
Besides fiber from high quality carbohydrate sources, some cat food formulas also include fiber from high quality fat sources such as flaxseed.
So, before you grab any bag of cat food that has the label "high fiber" written on it, you should do your due diligence and check the sources of fiber on the ingredients list and make sure that it comes from high quality carbohydrates and not useless filler that's just there to lower production costs.
What You Can Expect To Happen If You Feed Your Cat High Fiber Cat Food
The following list mentions some of the most occurrences you can expect to happen if you make the shift to feeding your cat high fiber cat food, at least for the first few weeks until your cat's digestive system gets fully accustomed to this dietary change.
(This is especially true if you shift from feeding your cat a diet that consists of barely any amount of fiber to a diet that's rich in fiber really fast and without a proper transitional period in between, which is why you should only enforce such a dietary change gradually).
Excessive Gas: If you switch your cat's food from one that's low in fiber to one that's high in fiber, especially if this switch is done without a proper transitional phase in between, you can expect your cat to get a bit gassy till their digestive system gets used to all that extra fiber they're consuming on a daily basis. Put shortly, expect some farts galore!
Extra Poop: All that extra fiber your cat will be consuming on a daily basis will surely lead to them eliminating extra waste (in the form of poop) more frequently and in larger volume than normal.
So, this shouldn't come off as alarming to you, unless you notice something's really wrong, in which case telling your veterinarian about it is the best choice.
Picky Eaters: Just like dogs can be picky eaters at many times due to many different reasons, cats can also be picky eaters just as well, especially when they're given high fiber cat food to consume.
Fact of the matter is, high fiber cat food tends to be a bit less tasty than regular cat food - but there are exceptions, of course, so it doesn't always have to be like this.